I saved a heck of a lot of money going to Rock Valley College before finishing my bachelor's in communications at Illinois State University. In many ways, RVC felt like a university — I hit the library and rec center between classes and often spent full days on campus.

The campus itself is full of charm and history — and some spots are just plain gorgeous. Whether you're considering enrolling or are definitely planning to return to campus this fall, here are my 5 must-see sites at RVC that truly make you feel like you're at a university:

1) The creek: Not many community college campuses have a beautiful creek running through them like RVC does. Whenever the weather is good, you'll find students gathered around the creek studying or just relaxing to the peaceful sounds of the fountain.

The Alumni Clock today. (Rock Valley College)

2) The Alumni Clock: On October 10, 1989, the now famous clock that sits on the bridge outside the student center was dedicated to commemorate the 25th anniversary of the referendum that created Rock Valley College. The four-faced Victorian was designed by Verdin Clocks of Cincinnati, Ohio.

You'll see the clock everywhere — in marketing materials, RVC television commercials, student graduation photos, and social media posts. Just recently, the clock was immortalized once again on a t-shirt designed specifically for Rock Valley College and available exclusively at the Rockford Art Deli. Five dollars from each shirt sold helps fund the newly established “Stay RAD” scholarship at RVC!

Starlight Theatre (Rock Valley College)

3) Starlight Theatre: You have to experience this 135,000-square-foot architectural wonder at least once! It was designed by world-renowned architect, and Belvidere native, Jeanne Gang and her firm Studio Gang Architects. It features a 200-foot, retractable star-shaped roof, which opens like the petals of a flower, allowing audiences to enjoy the night sky while still being protected from bad weather. 

The name Starlight Theatre dates back to the fall of 1967, when a group of Rock Valley College students hoped to encourage the public to appreciate the beauty of their college’s farm setting by performing a musical (Finian’s Rainbow) nestled beside the beautiful farm pond. Starlight Theatre was officially born. The current theatre building opened in 2003.

Outside the Health Sciences Center (Rock Valley College)

4) Health Sciences Center: This 110,000-square-foot building opened for classes in 2017, housing all of RVC’s allied health programs (nursing, surgical technology, dental hygiene, respiratory care, phlebotomy, fire science) under one roof. The design really encourages collaborative learning and makes it easier for students to find information about the college's health care programs. Plus, it's outfitted with innovative new technologies and features.

Inside the Health Sciences Center (Rock Valley College)

5) Student Center Atrium: The Atrium is both a perfect student hangout and a great place to host college events. There is rarely a time during the academic year when the Atrium is not alive with energy.

The Student Center Atrium (Rock Valley College)

I really enjoyed my time at RVC and I'd whole-heartedly recommend it both for people who want to save money on gen eds before transferring to a four-year college and those looking for a two-year degree. You can schedule a tour or join an Explore RVC event — or get started on the admissions process by clicking here or calling (815) 921-7821.